Thomas Jefferson Papers

Nathaniel Burwell to Thomas Jefferson, 17 February 1818

From Nathaniel Burwell

Saratoga1 Febry 17. 1818.


I have taken the liberty of addressing you, to request that you will recommend a system of female education, best adapted to the present state of our society. Such a plan as is compatable with the pecuniary circumstances of females, that will enable them to acquire a liberal and accomplished education. Should you find it convenient to furnish a plan of education, I must trouble you farther to accompany it with a catalogue of such books, as you deem proper to compose a female library. A communication by mail directed to me near Millwood Frederick County Virginia, containing the above request, will be thankfully received by Yr Obt Sevt

Nathl Burwell

RC (MHi); endorsed by TJ as received 25 Feb. 1818 from “Saratoga near Millwood” and so recorded in SJL. RC (DLC); address cover only; with PoC of TJ to Thomas Cooper, 10 Apr. 1818, on verso; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esqre Monticello near Charlottesvlle Va”; franked; postmarked Millwood, 18 Feb. 1818.

Nathaniel Burwell (1779–1849), planter and public official, was the third son of Nathaniel Burwell (1750–1814), who had also corresponded with TJ. He was born at Carter’s Grove plantation in James City County and attended the College of William and Mary in 1798. Having permanently relocated, like his father, to Frederick County, Burwell owned fifty-seven slaves there in 1810 and eighty-three a decade later. In 1809 he acquired Saratoga, an estate located in a part of Frederick County that became Clarke County in 1836, and he represented Clarke and Warren counties in the Virginia House of Delegates, 1839–41 and 1843–44. At the time of his death at Saratoga, Burwell possessed around seventy-five slaves, other personal property valued at just under $20,000, and bonds worth more than $22,000 (Burwell family Bible [ViWC]; DVB description begins John T. Kneebone, Sara B. Bearss, and others, eds., Dictionary of Virginia Biography, 1998– , 3 vols. description ends , 2:437–8; William and Mary Provisional List description begins A Provisional List of Alumni, Grammar School Students, Members of the Faculty, and Members of the Board of Visitors of the College of William and Mary in Virginia. From 1693 to 1888, 1941 description ends , 10; DNA: RG 29, CS, Frederick Co., 1810, 1820; Edith Tunis Sale, ed., Historic Gardens of Virginia [1923], 342; Leonard, General Assembly description begins Cynthia Miller Leonard, comp., The General Assembly of Virginia, July 30, 1619–January 11, 1978: A Bicentennial Register of Members, 1978 description ends , 392, 396, 410; Richmond Enquirer, 16 Nov. 1849; Clarke Co. Will Book, B:347–9, 376–8).

1Remainder of dateline beneath signature.

Index Entries

  • books; for women search
  • books; TJ recommends to N. Burwell search
  • Burwell, Nathaniel (1779–1849); and female education search
  • Burwell, Nathaniel (1779–1849); identified search
  • Burwell, Nathaniel (1779–1849); letter from search
  • education; female search
  • women; education of search